Groom, Nick 1966-

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GROOM, Nick 1966-

PERSONAL: Born February 19, 1966, in Northampton, England. Education: Oxford University, M.A., D.Phil. Hobbies and other interests: "Wine, beer, and song (especially of Merrie England)."

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of English, University of Bristol, 3/5 Woodland Rd., Bristol BS8 1TB, England. Agent—David Godwin Associates, 55 Monmouth St., London WC2H 9DG, England. E-mail—[email protected]; or [email protected].

CAREER: Educator, writer, and editor. University of Bristol, Bristol, England, senior lecturer in post-medieval literature. Visiting professor, Stanford University, 2000, and University of Chicago, 2001.

MEMBER: Thomas Chatterton Society (secretary).


(Editor) Narratives of Forgery (volume one; "Angelaki" series), A. Rowe (London, England), 1994.

(Editor) The Plays of William Shakespeare (originally published, 1778-80), twelve volumes, Routledge (London, England), 1995.

Percy's "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry," three volumes, Routledge (London, England), 1997.

Richard Wentworth's Thinking Aloud (companion book to touring exhibition), Hayward Gallery (London, England), 1998.

The Making of Percy's Reliques ("Oxford English Monographs" series), Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor and contributor) Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor and author of introduction) The Bloody Register ("Subcultures and Subversions" series; originally published 1764), four volumes, Routledge (London, England), 1999.

Introducing Shakespeare, edited by Richard Appignanesi, illustrated by Piero, Icon (Cambridge, England), 2001.

The Forger's Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature, Picador (London, England), 2002.

(Editor) Thomas Chatterson: Selected Poems, Cider Press (Cheltenham, England), 2003.

Work represented in books, including Early Romantics: Perspectives in British Poetry from Pope to Wordsworth, edited by Thomas Woodman, Macmillan, 1998, and Companion to Literature from Milton to Blake, edited by David Womersley, Blackwell's, 2000; contributor to periodicals, including Notes and Queries, Times Higher Education Supplement and Erotic Review; reviewer for periodicals, including Times Higher Education Supplement, Popular Music and Society, Times Literary Supplement, and Independent.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A critical edition of Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry for University of Exeter Press, 2004-05, a selected edition of Percy's Reliques for English Folk Dance and Song Society, and compiling and co-editing The Arthurian Texts of the Percy Folio.

SIDELIGHTS: British professor Nick Groom teaches courses on Shakespeare, eighteenth-century poetry, contemporary writing, and popular culture. His own writings cross these lines and go beyond to fiction. Among his undertakings is the most recent version, since Henry Wheatley's in 1889, of Bishop Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, first published in 1765. Landeg White wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that Groom's edition "should restore Reliques to their rightful place in Romantic criticism after a long period in which references to Percy have become somewhat formal and perfunctory."

The Making of Percy's Reliques is the first critical study of Percy's twelve-year effort which began with his rescue of a seventeenth-century collection, the pages of which were being used by a maid to light the fire in the Shropshire house of Percy's friend Humphrey Pitt. Percy solicited contributions from the collections of others through a huge volume of correspondence and borrowed so many books from friends and acquaintances that they were often transported by wagon.

Brean S. Hammond said in Review of English Studies that "with the painstaking labour of love, Groom shows how Percy worked with Shenstone and an everwidening circle of scholars to cull the beauties from the seventeenth-century folio manuscript of songs and ballads that he retrieved from a Salopian parlour-grate in 1753, and to combine them with ballads already collected by Selden and Pepys available in the Pepys Library in Cambridge and with yet others that existed in a wide range of archival and printed sources."

William Bernard McCarthy noted in Essays in Criticism that "carried to the Continent and there devoured by the critic Herder and the poets Schiller, Heine, and Goethe, the Reliques inspired the Romantic transformation of poetry in Germany. Back home in England it ushered in the first great age of British folkloric and philological studies, and it inspired a whole series of poets—Wordsworth and Coleridge, Blake, Keats, Scott, Tennyson, Rossetti, and Yeats."

Percy made changes up until the last minute before publication as he tried to bring order to the vast collection. The volumes were printed over a period of more than two years by James Dodsley, and Percy's collaborator, William Shenstone, died before the project was completed. "Groom's microbibliographical analysis . . . is extraordinarily detailed, yet lucid and entertaining," wrote Katherine Turner in a review of The Making of Percy's Reliques for the Times Literary Supplement.

Groom edited Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, the first collection of essays on Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770), the young poet who died of either suicide or a drug overdose and who was celebrated by such literary figures as Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley even though they knew he was a forger. Chatterton invented a fifteenth-century monk named Thomas Rowley, then wrote all of the prose and poetry attributed to Rowley that was supposedly found in a chest in a Bristol church. John Mullan wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that "Chatterton became what Nick Groom calls 'a Romantic icon' because his forgery was taken to be creativity, a doomed but brilliant revolt against polite codes of taste.... This mostly excellent collection only touches on what is wonderful in what the whelp wrote."

Introducing Shakespeare is a cartoon-version of the Bard's works and influence. Characters include such figures as Johnson, Coleridge, Keats, and Goethe, but also the unexpected, such as Freud, Oscar Wilde, and P. T. Barnum. Virginia Woolf makes an appearance in a reference to feminist criticism, and each critic and topic is commented on by a cloaked figure who at the end reveals himself to be Shakespeare.

Paul Ellis wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that in The Forger's Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature Groom paints such plagiarists and counterfeiters as Chatterton and James Macpherson—the latter who borrowed from Celtic history and myth for his Fragments by "Ossian"—"as Promethean figures who have lost their rightful place in literary history." Ellis said the book "investigates brilliantly the peculiar qualities of Romantic poetry's relations with literary forgery. Groom presents this encounter as a delicate, extra-legal and triumphantly creative negotiation between forgery, authenticity, inspiration, and authorship. It is his knowledgeable enthusiasm, nostalgia even, for the time when forgery demanded a sophisticated understanding of authenticity that makes his book so rewarding. Refreshingly humanist and carefully researched, The Forger's Shadow is the most entertaining, erudite, and authoritative book on literary forgery to date."

Groom told CA: "Pleasure, a passion for the value of poetry and lost traditions, academic demands, and money" are his motivations for writing. He is influenced by "the daemon, old books, library archives, English folk music, beer, wine, and good conversation." Groom noted that he is inspired to write on the subjects he does by "neglect of the English tradition," and that he writes "from before breakfast until after dinner; then I need a drink. Rewriting and revision is the key to good writing."



Albion, summer, 2001, Robert S. Thomson, review of The Making of Percy's Reliques, pp. 319-320.

Choice, March, 2000, D. L. Heyck, review of Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, pp. 1303-1304.

Essays in Criticism, April, 2001, William Bernard McCarthy, review of The Making of Percy's Reliques, pp. 260-269.

London Review of Books, September 20, 2001, Jonathan Lamb, review of Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, pp. 32-33.

Review of English Studies, February, 2001, Brean S. Hammond, review of The Making of Percy's Reliques, pp. 120-121.

Times Educational Supplement, October 19, 2001, Rex Gibson, review of Introducing Shakespeare, p. 22.

Times Higher Education Supplement, May 26, 2000, John Sutherland, review of The Making of Percy's Reliques and Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, p. 27.

Times Literary Supplement, June 27, 1997, Landeg White, review of Percy's "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry," p. 24; November 26, 1999, Katherine Turner, review of The Making of Percy's Reliques, p. 28; March 9, 2001, John Mullan, review of Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, p. 25; April 26, 2002, Paul Ellis, review of The Forger's Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature, p. 36.


Guardian Unlimited, (June 6, 2002), Terry Eagleton, review of The Forger's Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature.